Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Necessary EVIL

It's Recovery Week! Self imposed since I'm really just making this stuff up as I go along!

I've been running.. a lot. Twice a day most days. I needed a break. My legs were heavy. My mind was heavy! So after talking to my rockin ultra friend Tara I decided it was time for a little RnR for both the legs and the mind. Lucky for me the weather improved greatly. What?

I ran once this week so far.. and for the first time I'm not TOTALLY freaking out about not running. I've done some spinning... finally signed up to do some yoga. Gotta pay someone to make me. My February goal is to do yoga AT LEAST 3x week. I need it.

I have been finding myself in that place where my legs can't turn over the way I like them too. Hmm recovery needed.. and perhaps some stretching. I don't know might be a good idea.

I happened upon a Mark Allen article... that I'm sure EVERY one of you has already seen and been subscribing to for like EVER! It's the one about Heart Rate training and keeping your heart rate at your aerobic rate (180 - your age) - there is much speculation as to how accurate it is to use the180 - your age equation, but I'm not going to get into that here. Mostly because I have absolutely no clue about any of that. So I've been taking my running at 144 bpm -ish except for Mondays when I do my tempo or track/speed work. Last Monday I did my tempo work on the Mill bc the weather was horrific and I forgot my heart rate monitor. I wanted to see what my max was. So knowing this week was a rest week (um, from running) I decided to take the ol HR monitor to spin class with me and see how much I could blow it up. I know spinning is WAY different than running in many ways, but particularly in your (or my) ability to jack my heart rate up. Would you believe that the highest number I saw was 158! And that was ONCE... my average max number was more like 152. I'm not sure what to think of this. If anything! My resting heart rate is just above dead... seriously. Last I had it checked by a doc (for life insurance purposes) it was 48 and that freaked the lady out. She told me she was writing 52 on the paper. Okay lady.. whatever. AND I am pretty wiped out and thought maybe it was just because my legs were pretty much crapping out on me before I could jack the heart rate up. The last time I did run training with my heart rate monitor the highest I could get it was 165, but I remember that at that time my legs were pretty shot and were giving up before I could max out. Hmmm are we sensing a theme here? Laura spends WAY too much time in the 'grey zone'... I can SEE Sharpie shaking her head at me right now.

Anyway... things to ponder. If anyone has any insight as to 1. does this really matter and 2. am I really just not as fit as I thought I was... I'd love to hear people's theories.

Are you good at taking recovery? I clearly am not. Do you take your long slow days as slow as coach tells you too or do you cheat and try to hit that pace... whatever 'that' is. Does recovery / easy stuff make you feel like a loser? (not that it makes me feel that way or anything.) What are you thoughts on the Mark Allen article about HR training? I've heard good things... now if I can just mentally accept it when I'm out there. So far so good... but damn if my max is 152/165... 144 is pretty high? Yes/no?


  1. Recovery is SO important. That said, I am not always the best at it, but I have improved over the years. Stick to the easy week and you'll be better for it.

  2. I don't know much but I would say your low heart rate is a good thing! I've gotten my heart rate up in the 180s running, and i have to be running really really slow to keep it at 144! I've heard good things about training in such a low heart rate, but haven't dared try it yet since I like to run and not just barely jog. Maybe I should try it though. I haven't even put a heart rate monitor on in a long time! Anyway, enjoy your rest week! I'm having one myself and I'm about to go sew curtains! :)

  3. I've gotten better about taking recovery days... I used to have the mentality that doing every workout as hard as possible would make me really fast sooner (it doesn't; it leads to major burn-out). I work with a coach now and do a mix of really high intensity stuff, moderate intensity, and recovery days, so knowing that I'm getting my "tough" workouts in makes it easier to tell myself it's ok to go really easy on the recovery days.

    I don't know much about the HR thing except that I think everyone is different! I've seen my resting HR go down to the high 40's... But I did a VO2 max bike test in Nov. and it went up to 202!

  4. HR's can vary on given days and things like fatigue and exhaustion will absolutely affect what you can produce.

    I once could not get my HR over 131 (my AT is 176 on the bike) after 30+ minutes trying to get going. I called my coach and he told me to get the hell off the bike and go take a nap.
    What you're seeing on the HR on a given day has lots of variables. And since you don't really know what you're looking for, or why, or what it even means .... I dunno - maybe you start there? :)

    Go have a glass of wine.
    Love you.

  5. That's not you max. You are just trying to get your HR up when you are fatigued and you can't. I think you are getting confused about a few different formulas that are out there. There is the 220-Age = max. And then there is Maffetones 180 formula which is what Mark Allen is discussing in that article. You can read much much more about that in The big Book of Endurance Racing and Training by Maffeone. The 180 formula determines your max aerobic function (MAF). The thing is, when you are developing your aerobic function, Maffetone suggests you severely limit your time spent above MAF. So your weekly tempo speed work and your balls to the walls spinning are most likely compromising that aerobic development anyways. I think that's why so many people get frustrated with the low HR training, because they still throw in the fast stuff, which doesn't help them get faster at the low HR. Anyways, I won't talk your ear off, but you are always welcome to call if you are seeking more opinions. You are asking great questions though!